March 29, 2024

Press Release: Atra Announces Eleven Fellows in Inaugural Northern New Jersey Rabbinic (re)Design Fellowship


Press Release For Immediate Release

Atra Announces Eleven Fellows in Inaugural Northern New Jersey Rabbinic (re)Design Fellowship

Funded by The Russell Berrie Foundation, Fellowship aims to help local spiritual leaders innovate with new skills, strengthen connections among each other

April 3, 2024 – Atra: Center for Rabbinic Innovation today announced the 11 clergy selected for the inaugural Atra Northern New Jersey Rabbinic (re)Design Fellowship, developed to elevate and evolve the work of Jewish spiritual leaders and spur them to create new initiatives and partnerships that enhance Jewish life in the region. Funded by The Russell Berrie Foundation, the 18-month Fellowship is designed to impart tools and strategies that rabbinic leaders can use immediately to engage people in ways that add meaning and spiritual guidance into their lives. 

The cohort is cross-denominational and reflects a diversity in roles, congregational size and make up, and location. Cohort members are Rabbi Brian Beal, Temple Beth Tikvah; Rabbi Chaim Poupko, Congregation Ahavath Torah; Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman, Beth Havarim Shir Shalom; Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg, Glen Rock Jewish Center; Rabbi Jeremy Ruberg, Temple Emanu-El of Closter; Rabbi Loren Monosov, Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley; Rabbi Louis Polisson, Congregation Beth Sholom; Rabbi Rachel Steiner, Barnert Temple; Rabbi Robert Scheinberg, United Synagogue of Hoboken; Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn, Congregation Netivot Shalom; and Rabbi Steven Sirbu, Temple Emeth.

“Rabbis are such vital leaders in Jewish communities, in unique positions to make Jewish learning and ritual experiences resonant for people at all life stages,” said Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director of Atra. “Certainly there is a great need to invest in professional development for rabbis, to both attract and retain them in these critical positions. Northern New Jersey has a very talented, dedicated cohort of clergy, and we’re excited to elevate their work and strengthen their connections. We’re grateful to The Russell Berrie Foundation for this opportunity.”

Throughout the program, Fellows will focus on leadership development skills, community building and collaboration strategies, and new, innovative ways to best serve the community.  Fellows receive coaching from Atra’s experienced staff and faculty, can apply for grants to kickstart new projects and partnerships, and will engage frequently with their cross-denominational peer fellows for mutual learning and support. All of this support aims to strengthen and deepen meaningful Jewish engagement both in the participating communities and more broadly in the Jewish community of Northern New Jersey.

“We are thrilled to support Atra’s fellowship model to foster a vibrant, thriving, and inclusive Jewish community in our home region of Northern New Jersey,” said Idana Goldberg, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of The Russell Berrie Foundation. “We’re excited to see the innovations, collaborations, and smart risks that these exceptional rabbis will pursue to lead our local Jewish community toward a strong future.”

Added Fellow Rabbi Loren Monosov at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley, “We are in a time period that requires a new way of thinking about what we are doing as Jewish communities, and this fellowship provides a space to do that hard work in tandem with local colleagues. To be together as a locally based group ensures that not only will our individual synagogues benefit from this fellowship, but so will the larger community. We are all working towards the greater good of Northern New Jersey and can work to bolster and support one another knowing the culture and needs of our specific area.”

Modeled on Atra’s highly impactful national rabbinic fellowship, the Northern New Jersey Fellowship is an expansion of Atra’s intrapreneurship efforts with existing institutions. Following this pilot, Atra may expand it to other cities, taking lessons learned from Northern New Jersey into other communities.